A Watford Perspective - Chelsea
Going into this game you can understand the somewhat disgruntled nature of the Watford fans with no away goal in over 10 hours of play and no win in 5.
After hearing the team sheets there must have been a sigh of relief from the Watford camp seeing as they would come up against a much-changed Chelsea side.
Earlier in the season Mazzarri would have been hung, drawn and quartered for starting a game without a registered striker. With Watford`s continued misfortunes in front of goal and Deeney`s awful performance against Everton, you can understand where he is coming from starting with Niang up top.
Watford were playing well and keeping up with the movement and pace of Chelsea until they conceded with 22 minutes on the clock from a corner yet again, showing their frailties from set pieces. Zouma unmarked at the back post and Terry was on point to tuck home, for what is set to be his final appearance as a Chelsea player in front of a home crowd.
Their lead didn`t last long though, as Capoue capitalised on a rare mistake by the Chelsea captain 34 seconds after he had scored at the other end. There may be several variables that caused Terry`s mistake but his backwards header to Begovic was pounced upon by Capoue as it looped over the on-rushing keeper to end the Hornets 10 hour run without a goal.
With Chelsea looking to press the attack to get back into the lead, Watford conceded another corner which inevitably meant another goal. In the 36th minute of the game Janmaat glanced his clearing header only to Azpilicueta, who was completely unmarked on the end of the box and rifled home a powerful shot through a barrage of on rushing Watford players.
At half time Watford could be pleased with their performance apart from their defence from set pieces which has been shocking to say the least throughout this campaign. When they came out on the pitch for the second half they would have had a sense of optimism for the upcoming 45 minutes.
Which was to be short lived.
Only 4 minutes after the restart they had conceded a third. I`ll give you one guess how. That`s right. A corner. All be it with a stroke of luck for Chelsea, as Kenedy`s miss hit shot bounced into the path Ake. Ake then laid the ball off to Batshuayi for an easy tap home with the Watford defensive line in disarray once again.
For players and fans alike this was the moment all of us had given up hope . . . all except Daryl Janmaat. He found himself picking up the ball outside the Chelsea box off of Zouma as he danced his way into the box from the left-hand side. Getting one on one with Ake showing him on the outside before performing a well-executed cut back, with a slip he managed to curl the ball around the keeper into the bottom corner just 2 minutes after Chelsea`s 3rd.
With the game heating up Mazzarri`s tactic of leaving Niang to wander and drift had not really come to fruition with the Milan loanee seemingly isolated. The change bought on Okaka to play an orthodox target man, a tactic which paid off immediately. A deep cross from Cleverley drops at the big Italians feet after being on for only 3 minutes as he lashes the ball home past Begovic.
All was going well for Watford, it looked like they were on the front foot until the 88th minute as Willian was able to pick out Fabregas lurking just inside the box to curl the ball past Gomes into the bottom corner.
It may be a bit critical but the goal seemed to be Mazzarri`s fault. It was obvious to see the tired legs in the midfield especially with Cleverley and Behrami seeing as they had practically covered every blade of grass inside Stamford Bridge. These tired legs against a fresh Fabregas who had come on in the 79th minute and the never-ending engine of Kante were never going to hold up. Mazzarri should have bolstered the midfield to counteract his opponents substitutes.
With the game being an end to end battle between the two teams Mazzarri throws on Deeney as a last role of the dice.
In the 92nd minute Prodl put in a late challenge on Pedro to try to stop another Chelsea counter attack. This had really only been his second mistake of the game in open play, unfortunately his first mistake had seen him go into the refs book only 9 minutes before. He had to go.
In the dying minutes the Watford player`s frustrations seemed to boil over as Behrami and Janmaat confronted Pedro after Deeney had bounced off a Chelsea player for a 'foul`. The ensuing minute of handbags between the teams saw Deeney and Okaka booked.
When the final whistle went the fireworks and celebrations started for Chelsea to celebrate their title win at home. With Watford leaving again with another loss under their belts. Even though it was a much improved performance from them in front of goal there is still a lot of questions to be asked of some of the players and the tactics with one game remaining.
Performance of the match:
Until his 92nd minute dismissal Prodl had been the stand out player, his defence in open play against a tough opponent had been magnificent. Only two mistakes really which led to his red card. Due to his sending off I will give it to Daryl Janmaat for a truly amazing personal goal and his cover at the back for a roaming Holebas.
Worst performance of the match:
There were a few players who need to improve from that game. Niang and Holebas come to mind but they do have some excuses. Niang was isolated and is not an out and out striker as well as Holebas is not used to playing in a central defensive role. Worst performance goes to Amrabat, all but useless in going forward against a young out of position opposition in Kenedy, not once trying to beat him down the line. Being caught on the ball several times and only ever seeming to play the ball backwards or sideways.